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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Update on OT challenge...

Not too happy with myself on the progress of my book readings :( Lost the momentum; this month was again very slow. Haven't finished even 1 book completely. Not sure if the books that am picking are not holding my interest or the other things in life are distracting me... whatever it is, it's not good for my own goal that I have set - to read at least 25 books by end of this year... thats on an avg 2 per month, which is not too hard! How I arrived at this number? Just random! :)
Update on my OT list - modified the list a bit, coz I didnt like a couple of books which I had originally decided upon... My last book was on Turkey/Armenia, depicted in the map below (I love this tool that I found to create colorful maps!) Armenia is that small portion in dark brown next to Turkey (in orange)

1. Sister of my heart- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (India)
2. The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan)
3. A thousand splendid suns - Khalid Hosseini (Afghanistan)

4. The Bastard of Istanbul - Elif Shafak (Turkey/Armenia)
5. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (Russia) ........ in progress
6. To kill a mocking bird - Harper Lee (USA)
7. The Conservationist- Nadine Gordimer (South Africa)
8. One hundred years of solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Columbia)
9. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (Australia)

(Click on the book names to read the reviews..)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More photos..

Both pics taken with my Canon point and shoot A85! So i guess they are good enuf ;)

Macro of a flower... not sure which one this is


Saturday, June 14, 2008

On the top...

..... of my current playlist

Kabhi Kabhi Aditi ... (Jane Tu Ya Jane Na)
- An AR Rahman composed number from the movie 'Jane Tu Ya Jane Na' with playback by Rashid Ali makes it a very different song altogether (Rashid's voice quality really suits the tempo and mood of the song) Unlike the recent ARR songs, this one is a fast and peppy number and really gets addictive...It's a typical Rahman number; I call it 'typical' coz you have to listen to the song a few times before you fall in love with it! I feel Rahman has done a *great* job with this song, something very different compared to Swades, Jodha Akbar kinda music... (which too are my favorite ofcourse!) I suggest u listen to the song at least 3-4 times before qualifying it as 'not good' in one shot :)

Koi aane wala hai... (Strings)
- Title song from their new album 'Koi aane wala hai' released last month; the paki band doesnt disappoint their fans yet again with this new release, after Duur and Dhani. Faizal, the lead singer really does have a golden voice and I just love it! The music video has John Abraham featuring as an attempt to add a stint of glamour! It did work before, he and Sanjay Dutt featured along with the band for one of the songs in Zinda....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Bastard of Istanbul

Author: Elif Shafak

My reading momentum had come down suddenly over the last few weeks. Am back again now with the review and more books lined up by the bedside :)

After Pakistan and Afghanistan, this book which I picked up is about Turkey/Armenia. This was not on my original list but after coming across several good reviews, I was keen on reading it. Here, Elif Shafak deals with the age old cultural dissonance that exists between the Turks and Armenians, through a complex story of two families. She indicates how even a 50-60years old history can have a strong impact on the present lives of people. In Istanbul (as well as in parts of U.S.A), the Turks and Armenians still co-exist with mutual uneasiness and hatred; with the act of genocide (during the Ottoman empire) still fresh in the memories of the Armenians whereas the Turks feel no such continuity with their ancestors or the past.

Asya, labelled a 'bastard' since her birth, born when her mother was just 19yrs old, in a household full of women in Istanbul, grows up as a rebellious young Turkish woman, with the identity of her father shrouded till the end. Her only uncle who has immirated to America has an Armenian-American step-daugther called Armanoush (Amy), who later comes to Istanbul to stay in Asya's house, in search of her 'Armenian past'. Though the relationship between these 2 girls is strained, they soon become friends, intrigued by each other's culture. And during this quest, a lot of secrets tracing back to 1915 are discovered which really make the story gripping. There's a lot to learn about the Turkish-Armenian struggle history and the genocide especially, through the story of these 2 familes.

I took a longer time than expected to finish this book coz I felt it became very slow in the middle. Also, the author's writing style was quite different. There were different un-related parts of the story which were told together and I couldn't make much sense of it at that point and would lose track and end up being confused. But towards the final few chapters I could see it all come together! I really loved the book for this reason. Every small detail that was mentioned till then, just fell into place and the ending just left me awestruck!!! I didn't want to write the review as soon I completed the book, wanted that feeling to sink in and see if I really did enjoy it. Even now when I think about it, though it bored me a bit in the middle, I still love it for the complexities depicted in a very nice way!

Elif Shafak was prosecuted and acquitted in Turkey for insulting Turkishness by referring to the "millions" of Armenians "massacred" by "Turkish butchers" who "then contentedly denied it all." But finally the case was dismissed and she was back home and not in jail...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pallavi Anupallavi..

Every time I watch a Mani Ratnam movie, my admiration for him as a director increases. Then how could I miss his directorial debut?! I’ve tried real hard to get hold of this Kannada movie for a very long time (almost 1 or 2 yrs!). Finally managed to find the VCD and watched it yesterday. Released in 1983, the movie stars Anil Kapoor (supposed to be the bollywood actor’s debut too) and Lakshmi (better know by the movie Julie) in the leading roles and music composed by Illaiyaraja. Couldn’t have asked for anything better :)

The movie is about this guy Vijay (Anil Kapoor) and his relationship with 2 women. He falls in love with one and later due to circumstances meets the other lady who is married, with a kid but separated from her husband and develops a great bond of trust and friendship with her. But he is confused and treads the fine line between trust and attraction amidst societal pressures. The ending of the movie is the best. Mani Ratnam has his own style... just like every other movie of his, the ending is very realistic and not just the 'all's-well-and-happy' ending.

Mani Ratnam weaves so many sub-plots in the movie which are very subtle yet so powerful. The movie is shot in Bangalore and Madikeri (Coorg). It's really a treat to see old Bangalore in the 80's (with so much greenery of course!); the photography and cinematography are awesome and add to the texture of the movie. Illaiyaraja's music is a magical melody, it just mesmerizes you and leaves you craving for more- listen to the song ' Naguva Nayana.....' and you'll know what I'm trying to say! Last but not the least I have to mention that Lakshmi has given a powerful performance which is commendable. Though Anil Kapoor was very good, he didnt create an impact 'coz I have seen much better performances from him in bollywood movies later.

All in all, a wonderful movie and truly a Mani Ratnam classic!

Sunday, June 1, 2008


My first two (pretty good) macro shots.... I'm thrilled! :)